Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Penance - Bridges To Burn
Killer Doom Metal from Pittsburg from Long standing doomers Penance. Bridges To Burn from 1998. I've been lucky enough to see these guys (and girl) a few times and actually call them friends.
This shit rules. DOOM ON!
Penance was an American doom metal band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
PENANCE began in 1989 with the members of Pittsburgh area band DREAM DEATH moving more solely in a classic Doom direction. Drummer Mike Smail, guitarist Terry Weston, and bassist Rich Freund (who had replaced original bass player Ted Williams in Dream Death, following Williams' departure to another local band, EVICTION) recorded the "LIVING TRUTH" demo, with Brian (Lawrence) Goodbread originally a guest member. One of these demo tracks, "Contemplation", was on the RISE ABOVE RECORDS compilation: "DARK PASSAGES", and Mike Smail would later record with Rise Above owner and ex-NAPALM DEATH vocalist Lee Dorrian, on CATHEDRAL's debut album "FOREST OF EQUILIBRIUM".
With Brian Goodbread (himself a founding member of Dream Death) handling vocals and rhythm guitar, PENANCE recorded and released "THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED" on Rise Above Records in 1992, and would go on and tour Europe in support of the album the following year, alongside fellow doom titans SLEEP and CATHEDRAL. Goodbread left the band before the tour, and Lee Smith became the group's singer, with Weston being backed by CATHEDRAL'S Gaz Jennings on rhythm guitar for the tour.
After returning to the states, Penance were free to sign with another label and would do so with CENTURY MEDIA, who had expressed interest in the group before Penance released "The Road Less Travelled", with Rise Above. New members Lee Smith and Frank Miller were on board following the departures of Goodbread and later Freund, and this line-up recorded 1994's "PARALLEL CORNERS". With better production and a broader release, the album helped the band to gain more fans worldwide. "Parallel Corners" was later hailed by Martin Popoff in "The Guide to Heavy Metal" as one of the top five "post-Sabbath" albums ever released.
Sometime after Miller left the group, and Lee Smith ran into visa issues, subsequently having to return to England, Weston and Smail would eventually begin working with vocalist Brian "Butch" Balich. In 1998 the band recorded and released the "BRIDGES TO BURN" demo, with a little help from Brian Goodbread, who played bass on the recording. The demo let fans and record labels know Penance was still active and working on new material. With new bassist Ron Leard on board, the band would release their next full length album, 1999's "PROVING GROUND", themselves. This same line-up would also record the "TURN FOR THE WORSE" demo in 2000, which featured songs later released on "ALPHA AND OMEGA". The band's eventual new label, MARTYR MUSIC, would remix, remaster and re-release "PROVING GROUND" in 2001.
2001 would also see a new Penance offering released by Martyr Music, with a new line-up as well. Ex-NOVEMBERS DOOM and MYTHIC bassist Mary Bielich, and guitarist Matt Tuite, formerly of WICKER MAN and MUSTACHE, joined Smail, Weston, and Balich for "ALPHA AND OMEGA". The arrival of the two new members brought in fresh viewpoints and influences to the band, and a bit of a positive shift in mood can be heard on the album.
2003 saw the release of "SPIRITUALNATURAL", again with Martyr Music. Founding member Terry Weston would leave at some point during the production of the album, but co-wrote and played on a few of the songs heard here, while Matt Tuite contributed a good portion of the music to this very vital final album. HUMBUCKER guitarist Dave Roman was recruited to join the band and contributed to the songwriting as well. This line-up would see Penance's return to Europe that same year. Penance would later disband, with its members heading in different directions. In 2004 drummer Mike Smail recorded albums with INTERNAL VOID, the legendary PENTAGRAM, and now operates his own drum shop in Kittanning, PA. Butch Balich fronts the metal bands ARGUS and MOLASSES BARGE in the Pittsburgh area, while Mary Bielich and Matt Tuite joined BEHIND ENEMY LINES, an Anarcho-Crust punk band, also based in Pittsburgh. Matt Tuite has since played with THE EVIL MACHINE as well, and both Tuite and Bielich are members of DEL RIOS and THE MUD CITY MANGLERS.
In April 2007 PENANCE played the DOOM OR BE DOOMED festival in Baltimore, Maryland, with Smail, Weston, and Balich being joined by Dave Roman on bass. Smail and Roman would go to record the UNDER THE SUN album "MAN OF SORROW" with Dennis Cornelius in 2010.
Penance - Bridges To Burn